Now shed your skin and let's get started…

… is the line right before the chorus in one of my all-time favorite songs: “Throw Your Arms Around Me” by Hunters and Collectors (from their ’86 Human Frailty album). Next Friday (11/9), I’m going to be the guest DJ on the “Lost X Lunch” on our local alternative station. It’s basically retro alternative music from when alternative was alternative.

I’ve been thinking hard about my selections, and I’ve hedged some bets (I’ve only got 15 songs worth of time), but I wanted to picks songs that meant something to me. I’ve always associated music with people and particular times in my life. It’s interesting how many songs have associations with particular girls, too.

Here’s the tentative list:

  • “Harborcoat” by R.E.M. (from Reckoning): This was the first sounds of R.E.M. I ever heard. A friend had been telling me about the band, and she said I would love them. I happened to be in a record store and saw Reckoning on display, so I picked it up. It was a rainy spring afternoon in 1986, and I’ve never been the same since. Reckoning is my favorite R.E.M. record, and though I’ve been sorta lukewarm about everything since Document (and I wasn’t thrilled with it at first), the early classic R.E.M. sound has done more to shape my musical tastes (and guitar playing) than just about anything else.
  • “Could You Be the One?” by Husker Du (from Warehouse: Songs and Stories): I know, it’s the “slick” Husker Du, but I really dig Bob Mould’s songwriting, and I actually prefer the verging-on-power-pop sound of their two Warner Bros. records. That album was the soundtrack of my senior year in high school.
  • “Columbus” by the Church (from Heyday): The summer of 1986 was a big transitional period for me. I had just made the big transition from part-time new waver/part-time headbanger (I’ve always has weird tastes), but that summer I started listening to more alternative (though I hate what that word has become — it actually used to mean something) music. I must have worn out the first copy of this tape that I had. I borrowed it from a friend and never gave it back. I still love that album.
  • “Give It Time” by The Woodentops (Giant): I lived in the hinterlands when I was in high school, and I actually got tips on a lot of great music in the early days of MTV’s 120 Minutes. The two albums I bought that particular week were this and Robyn Hitchcock’s Element of Light (which had “Raymond Chandler Evening” which got me reading Chandler, too).
  • “Throw Your Arms Around Me” by Hunters and Collectors (Human Frailty): This song is just a simple singalong love song, and it’s amazingly powerful. A lovesong, but no particular woman attached to it. It still sends chills down my spine.
  • “Rain” by The Cult (Love): Before they thought they were AC/DC, they released the masterpiece of trippy rock, Love. “She Sells Sanctuary” was the underground hit, but this song and “The Phoenix” are my faves. An interesting fact: Big Country’s drummer, Mark Brzecki (sp?) played on all the songs on this album BUT for “She Sells Sanctuary” but he’s in that video. He’s one of the best, most-underated drummers around.
  • “Death Defying” by Hoodoo Gurus (Mars Needs Guitars): One of the “girl” songs. From early in the alternative years. This song is goofy and rocks and it reminds me of Sarah, but in a good way, when we were just friends, before we started dating and then fell out of touch.
  • “Just Like the USA” by Aztec Camera (from Knife): One of my first forays into BritPop was Aztec Camera’s Knife when I was a freshman in college. I still love that album, though I think their first (High Land, Hard Rain) is a stronger album. I don’t care for the later stuff.
  • “Erica’s Word” by Game Theory (The Big Shot Chronicles): From my freshman year in college. Enigma Records put out several compilation records called “The Enigma Variations” that showcased their diverse roster of artists. This song was on the first volume (I think), and I lived by that record my freshman year. About a girl, but oddly, not associated with one.
  • “Senses Working Overtime” by XTC (WaxWorks 1977-1982): I fell in love with XTC during freshman year, too, even though I owned Skylarking in high school. Andy Partridge is a pop genius, and this song proves it.
  • “Blue Monday” by New Order (Substance): This collection was one of the constants in that first year of college. I remember dancing to it and “Bizarre Love Triangle” during the first dance of the year. It was a good time to be young and intoxicated and pretentious. And this was a good song to dance to in that condition. Probably still is, actually.
  • “A Way” by the Bolshoi (Friends): In 1987, I was a runner up in an MTV Contest. Really. It was the first (and only, maybe) 120 Minutes contest involving the premiere of the Athens, Ga.: Inside Out documentary premiere. I won a crapload of albums and posters from I.R.S. Records, and this album was in that stack, though I had never heard of the Bolshoi. I still love this song.
  • “Asleep” by the Smiths (Louder Than Bombs): One of the good ballad-y Smiths songs. I always liked this song, but after reading Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower — one of the best books I’ve ever read — last year, it took on new meaning. I may play another Smiths song instead, but this is a good one.

Other possibilities to play on the show include the following, especially if I can round some of them up on CD or MP3 (and then burn to CD) by then:

  • “Alex Chilton” by the Replacements
  • “O Lucky Man” by The Grapes of Wrath
  • “Chysalis” by the Railway Children
  • “Oliver’s Army” by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
  • “Black Metallic” by the Catherine Wheel
  • something by Concrete Blonde
  • something by The Ocean Blue

More to follow when I’ve got time to do the write-ups. The list may change before the show.